Bonvoy Brilliant: The Marriott Card With The Best Benefits, If You’re Willing To Take The Risk Of Being #Bonvoyed

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card by American Express is the top-level Marriott Bonvoy card available to new applicants. Marriott points are useful because of the variety of hotels available in the Bonvoy program in addition to the other ways you can redeem your points with their travel partners.

Sign Up Bonus

We have a referral link for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card with a sign-up bonus for 75,000 Bonvoy points if you spend $3,000 in the first three months. If you want to apply for the card, we’d appreciate if you use our link (for which we get a referral bonus).

There are some truly confusing rules to sign up for the Marriott Bonvoy cards since there are cards available from both Chase and American Express. First things first. American Express will show a pop-up box when you apply to let you know if they feel you’re eligible for a sign-up bonus for this card. The Bonvoy cards have their own set of additional rules for new applications. Here’s an explanation:

Welcome offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product or the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card. We may also consider the number of American Express Cards you have opened and closed as well as other factors in making a decision on your welcome offer eligibility.

Welcome offer not available to applicants who (i) have or have had The Ritz-Carlton Credit Card from JPMorgan or the J.P. Morgan Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card in the last 30 days, (ii) have acquired the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless from Chase, the Marriott Rewards®Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Premier from Chase, the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus Business from Chase or the Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Business Credit Card from Chase in the last 90 days, or (iii) received a new Card Member bonus or upgrade offer for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless from Chase, Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Premier from Chase, the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card from Chase, the Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus Business from Chase or the Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Business Credit Card from Chase in the last 24 months.

Got all of that? Still eligible? Let’s go.

Annual Fee

There’s a $450 annual fee that’s not waived for the first year.

Bonus Spending Categories

When spending on the card, you earn points in the merged Marriott Bonvoy program as follows:

  • Earn 6 points for every dollar of eligible purchases at participating Marriott Hotels
  • Earn 3 points for every dollar spent at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines
  • Earn 2 points for all other eligible purchases

Now, I’ll admit that’s not a very exciting list of bonus categories. Even at Marriott hotels you only earn 6X points but you can earn 3x points on all hotel spending by using either the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Citi Prestige cards.

Card Benefits

Let’s look at what benefits you get with Marriott for having the card:

  • Free in-room premium internet (when booking directly through Marriott)
  • $300 in statement credits each year of card membership for eligible purchases at Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • Book direct using a special rate for a 2-night minimum stay at The Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis and get up to $100 in credit for qualifying charges
  • Automatic Gold Elite Status. Ability to earn Platinum Elite status if you spend $75,000 or more in eligible purchases in a calendar year
  • Receive 15 Elite Night Credits to be used to reach the next level of status
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. The award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 50,000 points) at a participating hotel. Select hotels have resort fees
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Priority Pass Membership good for access to lounges but not good for non-lounge airport experiences as of August 1, 2019
  • Free Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check.

Ways to Use Bonvoy Points

Points earned with the Bonvoy Brilliant card can be used to stay at Marriott properties. In addition, you’re able to transfer points to many different Airline Frequent Flyer programs (possibly with a bonus, depending on how many points you transfer). That’s not counting the additional options of Marriott Bonvoy Moments (which I explain later in this post).

Hotel Stays

Points can be used for award stays at any of the Marriott hotels. They cover over 30 chains worldwide where you can spend your points:

  1. The Ritz-Carlton
  2. St. Regis
  3. JW Marriott
  4. Ritz-Carlton Reserve
  5. The Luxury Collection
  6. W Hotels
  7. EDITION
  8. Marriott Hotels
  9. Sheraton
  10. Marriott Vacation Club
  11. Delta Hotels
  12. Le Meriden
  13. Westin
  14. Autograph Collection
  15. Design Hotels
  16. Renaissance Hotels
  17. Tribute Portfolio
  18. Gaylord Hotels
  19. Courtyard Hotels
  20. Four Points
  21. SpringHill Suites
  22. Protea Hotels
  23. Fairfield Inn & Suites
  24. AC Hotels
  25. Aloft Hotels
  26. Moxy Hotels
  27. Marriott Executive Apartments
  28. Residence Inn
  29. TownPlace Suites
  30. element

Flights

You can transfer points to the frequent flyer programs of over 30 different airlines. The transfer ratio is 3 points to 1 mile for most airlines and you get a bonus of 5,000 extra miles when you transfer 60,000 points. That means it’s best to transfer only in 60,000 point increments, when your 60,000 points will give you 65,000 miles. A change from the previous transfer ratio is with United Airlines. Whereas a transfer to United was a previously a horrible deal, you’ll now get a 10% bonus when sending points to United.

FREQUENT FLYER PROGRAMS POINTS : MILES
Aegean Airlines 3:1
Aeroflot Bonus 3:1
AeroMexico ClubPremier 3:1
Air Canada Aeroplan 3:1
Air China Phoenix Miles 3:1
Air France/KLM Flying Blue 3:1
Air New Zealand Airpoints™ 200:1
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan® 3:1
Alitalia MilleMiglia 3:1
ANA Mileage Club 3:1
American Airlines 3:1
Asiana Airlines Asiana Club 3:1
Avianca LifeMiles 3:1
British Airways Executive Club 3:1
Asia Miles™ 3:1
China Eastern Airlines Eastern Miles 3:1
China Southern Airlines 3:1
Copa Airlines ConnectMiles 3:1
Delta SkyMiles® 3:1
Emirates Skywards® 3:1
Etihad Guest 3:1
Frontier Airlines EarlyReturns® 3:1
Hainan Airlines 3:1
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles® 3:1
Iberia Plus 3:1
Japan Airlines JAL Mileage Bank 3:1
Jet Airways JetPrivilege® 3:1
JetBlue TrueBlue™ 6:1
Korean Air SKYPASS 3:1
LATAM Airlines LATAMPASS 3:1
Lufthansa Miles & More (Suspended) 3:1
Multiplus 3:1
Qantas Frequent Flyer 3:1
Qatar Privilege Club 3:1
Saudia Airlines 3:1
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer® 3:1
South African Airways Voyager 3:1
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® 3:1
TAP Air Portugal 3:1
THAI Airways 3:1
Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles 3:1
United MileagePlus® 3:1.1
Virgin Atlantic® Flying Club 3:1
Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer 3:1

Other uses for Starpoints

There are also other interesting ways for you to spend your points. One of those is the Marriott Bonvoy Moments program. Some of the events they offer a set price are:

  • Access Marriott Bonvoy Luxury Suite for the Billy Joel, Queen + Adam Lambert. and Hootie & The Blowfish at Madison Square Garden
  • Watch a Cubs game at Wrigley Field from the Marriott Bonvoy Luxury Suite

Besides the fixed price tickets, they also have auctions for more “once in a lifetime” events:

  • Wellness weekend in Mauritius
  • Access the Marriott Bonvoy™ Elite Hospitality Suite for the soccer final in Rio de Janeiro + stay at the Sheraton Grand
  • Celebrate Pride + stay at Aloft Munich

For one of the most expensive uses of points, here’s an article by Dan, of the website Dan’s Deals, who won an auction to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 7 of the World Series at Wrigley Field for 1,060,500 Starpoints (the equivalent of over 3 million points Bonvoy points).

Final Thoughts

For an ongoing basis, this card has a $450 annual fee. Earning the $300 credit at Marriott hotels is really easy as all you need to do is to pay for a room with your card. In fact, I used part of the credit when staying at a hotel I paid for with points. When staying at the Renaissance St. Pancras, I charged our dinner at The Booking Office and drinks at George’s Bar to our room. Shortly after our stay, we received a statement card for the charges. If I’m able to use the 50,000 point voucher at a hotel which costs more than $150 for the night, I’m going to be ahead with this card. If I’m able to use the card for the resort credit, I’d be making money on the card.

All of this means I’m willing to support Marriott and take the risk of eventually being #Bonvoyed when trying to redeem my points. Our redemptions tend to be simple so I’m willing to take the chance, for now.

As far as how to use your points, I hoarded Starwood and then Marriott points for years. I always felt there would be some exotic destination I would want to travel to and I would transfer Starpoints to the airline for the fancy seats on the flights. With limited vacation time, I’ve realized I have enough points and it was time to start spending my points. Luckily, I’ve found that using points for hotel stays can be a great value. I wish we could stay somewhere for 5 nights more often so I could take advantage of the fifth night free on reward stays like I did at the Sheraton New York and the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London.

One of the most common uses of this perk was to stay for five nights at the Swan or Dolphin hotels at Walt Disney World with points for the price of four nights. Marriott has caught on the value people gave these rooms and have placed them into category 6, costing 40,000 to 60,000 points a night (previously they only cost the equivalent of 30,000 points).

Swolfin

I value Marriott Bonvoy points at .667 cents per point. I usually find redemptions worth much more than that, like when I managed to get 2.25 cents per point value booking a room at the Residence Inn in New York over Thanksgiving weekend.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

9 thoughts on “Bonvoy Brilliant: The Marriott Card With The Best Benefits, If You’re Willing To Take The Risk Of Being #Bonvoyed”

  1. I switched to Marriott from Hilton because when this card debuted–it had a 100k sign-up bonus. Most of my travel (so far this year) has been for work. I went from Silver to Gold just by getting the card and then had multiple weeks of travel for work, and due to their double-night promotion that only ended last weekend–I am now Titanium. I hope they do that promotion every year! 🙂
    They also still have a double-points promotion that is running until September — I have no idea if all of this is targeted or what..but so far so good. The #BONVOYED meme has gotten a little out of hand–a lot of what I’ve seen complaints for were people who took advantage of IT issues and had unintendedly low booking rates for expensive properties and then got MAD that they were caught. I mean….?

    1. I’m glad you’re enjoying the switch to Marriott and their offers have been good if you stay frequently at their hotels. I have to differ about the #bonvoyed meme being exaggarated. It’s not only people who took advantage of issues. Many of the problems is due to the poor IT. Not being able to refund points or losing reservations is simply unacceptable. I’d say that the simpler your travels, the less likely you are to have problems. It’s only when you want to change anything that you’ll have a problem, or maybe you won’t

    1. True. But that more a function of being a Gold member (which you get with the card) so I didn’t include because it’s not exclusive to having the card.

  2. Do the 15 night credits stack with Marriott rewards premier plus nights (whatever the card is called now)? I know I read the answer somewhere before but I can’t recall..

    1. The points do not stack. No matter how many Bonvoy cards you have, you’ll only get 15 nights credited to your account.

      1. Thanks – that’s what I thought I had read. It’s a shame, but completely understandable from a business standpoint ha

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